Welcome to the 16th annual INTERNET TELEPHONY magazine TMC Labs Innovation Awards, where we honor innovative technologies from a wide range of areas. Winners include entrants from the video space, NFV, a cloud-first telephone, a communications system targeted at mobile-first/millennials, a cybersecurity solution, contact center product, and a player in the optical space.
TMC Labs uses a rigorous application and selection process when choosing innovative products and services. This year, we proudly recognize the following companies with TMC Labs Innovation Awards.
Plixer International Inc.
Cybersecurity is a huge problem that isn’t going away any time soon. We recently wrote about the Offshore Leaks Database, which allows you to search the Panama Papers. Then there’s the major spread of ransomware attacks and FBI warnings about how to deal with them. That said, it’s time for all companies to think about dedicated security products. Plixer Scrutinizer v16 is a product that not only addresses incident response and threat detection, it provides historical reporting and capacity base-lining as well. Perhaps best of all, Scrutinizer is a massively scalable, distributed flow collection system that provides a single interface for all traffic related to a potential threat. Even if the flows are being sent to different collectors, Scrutinizer will stitch the flows into a single report.
Customers may choose between hardware and virtual appliance. The hardware option provides the collection rates demanded by high-volume flow environment including reporting on all flow-based network traffic monitoring technologies such as NetFlow, sFlow, IPFIX, J-Flow, App-Flow, NetStream, and more. The Virtual Appliance is a VMware/Hyper-V solution that scales to higher flow volumes.
Scrutinizer includes more extensive integration with other vendors such as Cisco (News - Alert), Gigamon, Splunk, VMware, and Ziften, while remaining user friendly. The solution can monitor for definable unwanted behaviors as well. Besides broader vendor support, the latest version also includes several feature enhancements such as Wildcard mask filters, which can be applied in the middle of IP addresses and subnets. Multipliers are now applied to NetFlow samples and sFlow packet samples to help better reflect traffic rates. Additional enhancements have been made in the Flow Analytics engine to better identify Sentinel, NetBIOS NS, and Sun RPC DDoS reflection attacks. A new index search allows terabytes of records to be searched in a fraction of a second to find a specific IP address.
Plixer Scrutinizer v16 was chosen because of its wide range of capabilities, industry interop, and its history of firsts in the market.
We were also impressed with the wide range of Plixer customers including, Accenture, AIG, Defense Logistics Agency, Mercy Hospital, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., and Syracuse University Airgas.
PowerMedia XMS 3.1 with VP9
We’ve often heard that software is eating the world. Perhaps one of the places where software has had the biggest appetite is the telecom market, where decades-back Dialogic took a once-proprietary market and opened it up so that any developer could build solutions that can scale to manage the needs of an enterprise or even a carrier. A major movement in the telecom space as it relates to carriers is something called NFV, or network functions virtualization, the premise of which is to take all the hardware and move it to software on open servers – exactly what Dialogic has preached for years.
This brings us to PowerMedia XMS 3.1 with VP9, a highly scalable, software-only media server that enables standards-based, real-time multimedia communications solutions for IMS, MRF, enterprise, and WebRTC applications on premises or in the cloud. The solution is based on more than 15 years of software media processing experience, and it’s in use by global carriers and enterprises to power millions of rich media sessions.
What we like best about PowerMedia XMS 3.1 is it’s the industry’s first media server to support the VP9 video codec, a significant improvement in video compression and error concealment, allowing video to be supported in more applications and with less network bandwidth. Moreover, multi-party videoconferences can have participants using H.264, VP8, or VP9 codecs.
Other improvements we like include:
- Conference Control Enhancements - support for command buffering;
- Whisper Coach Conferencing – used extensively in contact centers and conference platforms;
- Transaction Conference Recording – as needed in contact centers, financial, and public safety applications;
- VxML Outbound Calling – facilitating outbound notification applications;
- RTP/RTCP Port Multiplexing – improving security and reducing port usage for large-scale applications.
Dialogic was chosen because they have been an innovator in the open telecom space for many decades and have once again brought a great set of new features to market.
Due to hyperscale growth of cloud, mobile broadband, and high-definition video applications, CSPs are beginning to transform their legacy network infrastructure to next generation packet-based networks to support high bandwidth demand. MRV’s OP-X1 is a new, market-driven solution that enables carrier Ethernet evolution to 100G services with new revenue opportunities for service providers.
With a broad set of 100G CFP2 and SFP+ pluggable options and a compact 2RU form factor, MRV’s OP-X1 solution can enable a variety of wholesale and retail service scenarios across packet switched or optical transport metro networks. Over the long term, the programmable capability of OP-X1 can result in significant operational and capital savings. The goals of the MRV OP-X1 are to simplify the network lifecycle, substantially reduce opex and enable rapid time-to-market offerings that generate new high-margin revenue streams for carriers around the globe.
On premises, the OP-X1 simply requires a browser with the hosted side running on Linux with open APIs and an integrated x86 processor.
Carrier Ethernet 2.0 technology further enriches service offerings and coverage by providing service scalability up to 100G combined with OAM mechanisms for SLAs and performance measurements for ensuring quality of experience. 100G wholesale and retail service delivery is enabled by CE 2.0 platforms that can be installed at or near the customer premises and by an appropriately designed network architecture.
The combination of network transformation and programmable 100G devices, like MRV’s OP-X1, introduce major revenue opportunities to service provides, allowing them to serve customers with strict SLA requirements.
Some of the distinctive features of the platform include a wide range of line cards as well as front to back cooling, which can save up to 30 percent on these costs. In addition, there are SDN and virtualization capabilities in a distributed NFV framework or offered by a centralized SDN controller.
We are further impressed with some of these recent enhancements:
- a full suite of ITU-T and MEF defined OAM feature sets;
- an extensive traffic management feature set, including MEF 10.3 HQoS and hierarchical shaping and scheduling;
- L2CP protocol handling according to MEF 6.1; and
- ERPS per ITU G.8032.
We chose the OP-X1 because it continues to add best-in-breed features while raising the bar on network speed – the exact things today’s CSPs need to remain competitive in an ever-evolving market.
Switchvox has always had a solid position in the communications space because it is based on open source, but at the same time has the bugs worked out of it, allowing companies to get the best of tested open source solutions at a reasonable price. The company touts the solution for 1-600 users – a wide range for sure and at the same time, it is available in the cloud, on premises, or even in a virtualized environment. In addition, Switchvox is the first commercial business phone system to use Asterisk 13 as its engine. Asterisk 13, the most powerful version of the world’s most successful open source communications platform (we’ve been covering it since 2004), allows Switchvox to deliver more efficient call handling, improved performance, and an enhanced user experience. That prepares Switchvox for significant and faster innovations down the road.
Some of the company’s differentiators include, using the same software regardless of deployment method. Companies that choose an on-premises option have the same user and administration experience as users on Switchvox Cloud. This opens up the ability to deploy a hybrid communication network of on-premises and cloud-based systems and still have the one system feel. Switchvox also has an all features included pricing model, eliminating confusing and expensive feature licenses and delivering every feature to every user at no additional cost.
The company recently released Switchvox 6, which in addition to the above-mentioned Asterisk 13 upgrade, has a completely redesigned switchboard, new contacts and tags features, and a new Salesforce CTI plug in. Switchvox 6 also brings support for Switchvox in a virtual environment, with VMWare giving customers increased deployment flexibility, scalability, cost savings, and more effective disaster-recovery options.
Telecom traditionally has been a very closed market. Digium gets much credit for opening the market through open source and allowing the user community to make improvements and add back to the project. As a result of this continuous innovation, Switchvox has taken the best of Asterisk and built a truly robust business solution.
We live in a world in which workers are more distributed than ever, and eZuce with Viewme hopes to become the glue that ties workers together. This communications and collaboration tool creates virtual open office spaces for distributed organizations. The company’s video application was one of the first to seamlessly integrate visual collaboration with corporate call control of a phone system/PBX via SIP. EZuce Viewme, and sister product eZuce SRN (a hybrid cloud service for research organizations), are collaboration and communications solutions used by enterprises and researchers around the globe. Instead of just being a point application for videoconferencing, Viewme is a communications tool that users can be in all the time.
As a software-defined video platform, Viewme offers the very flexible deployment options available to meet the unique requirements of the enterprise. Organizations can deliver the application from a public, private, or hybrid cloud architecture. Viewme can also be delivered from a hybrid cloud and premises design, which puts the service at the best location to guarantee quality and performance.
The customer can consume all services from the cloud on any PC or mobile device. The customer may also locate one or more user self-hosted instances on their infrastructure to improve quality and performance.
The solution supports whisper conference, where multiple meeting participants can have their own sidebar conversation while still listening to the ongoing meeting. In addition, there is direct playback of video and audio files into a collaboration session as another camera. And every participant in a session can share his or her desktop at the same time.
Viewme can also be used as a softphone with an enterprise call control system. In fact, Viewme can be used to make and take voice calls from a PBX system, eliminating the need for desk phones or additional softphone clients. Typical competitors are separate systems entirely. This is why companies like Plantronics make headsets that switch between desktop and computer.
Another interesting feature is that a single system can support one to three cameras simultaneously. When combined with multiple displays, it can use a single computer with multiple monitors and multiple cameras to create a telepresence solution.
In the last six months the company has added:
- a SIP softphone into the desktop client;
- a universal player to play video and audio files directly into a meeting;
- a managed service provider interface into its web-based provisioning system for managing multiple customers; and
- a new look and feel to the clients sporting a design inspired by Google's Material Design concepts.
We chose eZuce Viewme because it offers a flexible video UC solution for enterprises looking for a variety of benefits. From telepresence to legacy support, the solution is powerful while being adaptable. Perhaps most importantly, it truly helps unify video and audio between different vendor solutions.
Alteon NG VA
Carriers are in a race to compete with OTT companies such as Facebook, Google, and a host of messaging and VoIP companies to avoid being just broadband companies or dumb pipes. One of the biggest fears is the contact relationship – the phone number is becoming less important as it is replaced by the OTT equivalents such as the Twitter handle. Putting aside specific applications, the telcos are at a general disadvantage when competing against tech companies because they use aging legacy equipment – quite often bespoke. As mentioned above, this is why there is a move to NFV – so carriers can become software telcos. One of the challenges when making the move is dealing with the orchestration that involved in matching services to back-end infrastructure to ensure service levels are met.
This is where the Radware Alteon NG VA, or virtual appliance, comes in. This load balancer/application delivery controller runs on commercial off-the-shelf equipment – eliminating hardware vendor lock-in, reducing operational complexity by using SDN applications together with vDirect for service provisioning automation and NFV-based network functions, and handling full lifecycle process automation through integration with NFV orchestration solutions such as OpenStack or KVM.
In addition, operators can seamlessly scale/add more instances for increased service capacity, using standard COTS servers together with elastic scale SDN applications, meaning resources are freed up and available for use by other applications when no longer in use.
Other benefits include high-capacity steering functions, which efficiently route traffic to different value-added services or monetization engines while flexible service customization is provided by AppShape++ policy scripting.
Alteon VA for NFV is the next generation Alteon Virtual Appliance for NFV environments, delivering a scalable, ultra-high capacity of up to 200Gbps per instance and multi-Tbps in a multi-instance deployment. It decouples ADC (News - Alert) functions from dedicated underlying hardware and enables next-generation ADC services to run on x86 OTS hardware. Thus – the idea of software telco.
Alteon VA for NFV reduces total cost of ownership, simplifies network services deployment, enables capacity elasticity, and automates lifecycle management. It enables carriers, large enterprises, and e-commerce networks to become smarter, more programmable, flexible, and cost-effective through SDN transformation and NFV compliance.
We selected the RadwareAlteon NG VA because complexity is one of the biggest challenges when deploying virtual network functions. Reducing the complexity is essential in allowing carriers to effectively deploy services in a cost-effective manner.
IPX500 Intelligent Business Phone
The phone with a cord coming out its back is a technology that is more than 100 years old, yet we found a new phone worthy of distinction in this write-up. The Telefield North America IPX500 Intelligent Business Phone is specifically targeted at cloud communications providers looking to reduce operational expenses. In other words, it is a cloud phone.
Yes, it is a SIP VoIP phone that competes with the likes of Polycom, Grandstream, Yealink, and others. But the IPX500 is completely unique in that it was designed from the ground up to address the needs of service providers looking to reduce support costs, truck rolls, and churn.
Without any additional devices on the customer premises, and with no training of the user, the service provider can access the device (firewall and NAT translation is handled by the IPX500) and see what the user is seeing. This is particularly key in situations where the service provider is dealing with a customer that doesn’t have a trained IT department – an increasing reality in today’s small business segment. Gone are the endless requests for a customer to reboot the device, hoping the phone will work the next time, etc. Customer support calls that used to take 10 minutes can typically be completed in well under 5 minutes – cutting support expenses by half, according to the company.
Additionally, improvements in core software and hardware design have significantly reduced boot-up time to about 30 seconds so that situations where a reboot might still be necessary, the support tech isn’t waiting for a minute or more. That’s time that can add up to astonishing amounts when multiplied by thousands of customer calls over the course of an average year.
In addition, the IPX500 supports remote software updates that were designed to be as intuitive as updating an iPhone or Android phone.
The company built its own platform on Android and can add a custom functionality for service providers running their own in-house softswitches or requiring integration with third-party systems. By running their own redirect server, they can further provide custom versions of the software that remotely load and remotely update the software to the customer’s specification prior to the provisioning process.
There is also support for PortaOne, integrated with the Metaswitch Endpoint Configurator and an added graphical UI for Broadsoft Busy-Lamp.
The phone itself is not a new invention but the absolutely breathtaking pace of cloud adoption is fairly new. We chose the Telefield North America IPX500 because having an endpoint device that allows cloud UC providers to reduce costs so they can more effectively compete could be the game-changer these carriers need to stay ahead of the competition.
Before any of the hosted UC services you’ve heard of came to be, there was VirtualPBX – the company that pretty much helped launched the category. Recently, the company looked to innovate and differentiate in the market it helped pioneer with the launch of Dash.
This product is ideal for SMBs with distributed or mobile workforces, franchises, or those companies that want to replicate the communications presence of their largest competitors at a fraction of the price.
The company is looking to re-establish itself as the dominant player. As a result, it exhaustively researched user behavior and correlated it with advanced UX/UI design theory and testing. The goal was to link powerful enterprise-grade features with user-friendly, intuitive design. The end result is a solution that should allow companies to rely less on IT support to meet their VoIP and UC needs.
A Dash feature that exemplifies how design-focused engineering equates to advances from a technical perspective is in porting numbers. What often requires the assistance of an IT expert can now be accomplished by the admin on a Dash account, and in a fraction of the time. This is accomplished by cleanly connecting the technical steps that need to be taken to execute this function to an intuitive interface that non-technical employees can safely and quickly navigate.
VirtualPBX is resolute in maintaining a full customer support team in the same office where it houses the engineering and design teams. This cross-pollination allows for more insightful and responsive support for customers. Furthermore, it also provides unfettered access to the support team online at no extra charge.
We selected VirtualPBX Dash because of the company’s long history as an innovator in the cloud communications space as well as its continued focus on innovation and differentiation, which help customers be more productive.
Panamax iMax is an integrated, unique platform for wholesale carriers. The platform offers real-time integration of Class 4 softswitch capabilities with call routing, network management, and prepaid and postpaid billing functionality.
The target market for iMax would be all the organizations that exist within the wholesale carrier ecosystem. This includes mobile network operators, mobile virtual network operators, interconnects, internet telephony service providers, and other fixed line operators and carriers. The universe of users within this ecosystem are the rates, routing, billing, and network operations departments of these entities.
It was developed with a vision to incorporate all the carriers in the wholesale voice industry under a single trading platform and as such is capable of handling multilateral peering of thousands of calls among various tier-1, tier-2 and tier-3 carriers. iMax enables both large and small carriers on the Panamax system to easily buy and sell routes from each other. iMax reduces capex with optimized switching capacity, while also reducing opex with minimal operations and support costs. iMax modules consist of the session border controller, the call session controller, and the Admin Portal. The SBC has a built-in firewall to prevent DDoS attacks and facilitates the management of calls per second and concurrent calls as well as authenticity of call traffic from carriers and products. The CSC (News - Alert) performs credit and rate authorization and has automatic call distribution routing functions as well. The Admin Portal, via its user-friendly dashboard, enables switch management, billing and reporting, alerts, notifications, and business process management. iMax also offers several add-on modules such as the Carrier Portal, which offers an easy-to-use home page and product offering portal as well as a customer signup flow. The Carrier Manager Portal provides profile management through its GUI interface and a theme management feature and multiple template configuration options. Finally, the Carrier Self-Care Portal provides account summary information as well as the ability to change settings and create payment profiles and makes rate and call detail data available.
In addition, iMax is interoperable with all types of switches, routers and gateways. The system supports both SIP (RFC 3261, RFC 2543, RFC 2833) and H.323 protocols as well as a wide range of codecs (e.g. G729, G711, G723, G721, etc.). There is third-party API support for resource and route control, a scalable architecture, unlimited license supporting multi-vendor network environments, and HMP and DSP-based transcoding support.
In particular we like the unlimited license supporting multivendor environments, and the wholesale prepaid option, which helps move the burden of rating from the business owner to the customer. We are also impressed with the Self-Care Portal, which provides a dashboard, online chat, widgets, account summary, settings, payment, rates and more. Finally, the specs are also worthy of note: 100,000 concurrent calls, less than 0.0002 second route lookup time, and more than 1,500 ports of transcoding support per box. Ok, we weren’t actually done… there is so much more. We also like the ability to run a privately- branded wholesale VoIP business turnkey from the cloud.
WebRTC is certainly one of the biggest breakthroughs this decade in open communications. In the 90s we had CTI and VoIP, the first decade of this century saw SIP and SIP trunking, and now we have WebRTC. The promise of this standard was to allow browsers to share real-time information without any additional downloads or plugins.
Now that we have an endless supply of endpoints, how do we write the apps that bring this exciting standard to life?
Sipwise rtc:engine transparently connects WebRTC-enabled applications to third-party networks via standard protocols (SIP, XMPP, SMPP, and others), allowing users to place and receive calls, instant messages and SMS, as well as presence information to and from existing communication networks.
It further provides 1:1 voice and video calls and chats, multi-party voice, video and chat conferencing within web browsers, as well as voice dial-in from fixed and mobile networks, file sharing between conference participants, and general-purpose information exchange for whiteboard and collaborative editor implementations.
The Sipwise rtc:engine can be deployed at the customer premises or on dedicated customer cloud instances to ensure total privacy of communication data. The solution works for any entity from a small company to an enterprise, a carrier, a solutions provider, an integrator, etc.
This offering is one of the first products allowing an operator to deploy its own cloud-based solution for its end customers, and enterprise customers with high demands for data privacy and security can deploy telco APIs at customer premises to ensure that no confidential data is leaked to any third party.
In addition, there is integration with Dialogic PowerMedia XMS and Cisco Jabber to make call recordings, do voice and video transcoding, support rich voice applications like IVR systems and video mail, as well as leverage enterprise UC services already in place at a customer premises.
Sipwise rtc:engine is developed in close cooperation with T-Labs, the R&D department of Deutsche Telekom/T-Mobile. With its tight roots in mobile communication, the WebRTC components are optimized for mobile networks, taking into account the implications of such environments like limited bandwidth, packet loss, and potentially interrupted connections.
Since the introduction of ORTC, Sipwise rtc:engine is now supporting the Microsoft Edge browser along with Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera.
WebRTC does a great job of connecting browser endpoints but we selected rtc:engine because it adds the connectivity glue developers need to more quickly write high-value applications.
Vocalcom Cloud Contact Center
Vocalcom's Cloud Contact Center software allows users to connect to customers in a whole new way using the latest innovations in web, mobile, and location awareness to grow business faster and improve customer experiences like never before.
The company was early to support Salesforce – in 2011 it provided a full native Force.Com app. As a consequence, this solution can run in Salesforce with or without Sales Cloud or Service Cloud. Indeed, it’s available without any third-party application to deploy on the customer site except a USB headset.
Although we weren’t able to test it, the company can set up provisioning and billing and deliver a solution for 1,000 concurrent users within a day.
Other speed-related benefits we liked include:
- time to create the complete environment multichannel, databases included (Oracle or SQL): 1 hour;
- SIP trunking routing: 30 minutes, including DID provisioning;
- email account settings: 15 minutes; and
- tests and acceptance: 2 hours.
In terms of mobile customer experience, Vocalcom’s end-to-end Mobile Platform Solution for the contact center allows an intimate connection between self-service, the contact center, social, and mobile. This includes visual IVR and personal shopper with payment capabilities.
In terms of a Google Adwords Call Tracking System, Vocalcom’s ADDCALLS can pinpoint which ads, search keywords, content, and campaigns are generating phone calls, opportunities, and revenue – and provide agents with the richest data available on caller activity. It goes beyond call attribution to capture detailed information on every caller, including their search keywords, geographic location, web content viewed, and more.
It also speaks to Net Promoter Scores. NPS is a powerful tool in gauging customer loyalty. It is used as a proxy for gauging the customer’s overall satisfaction with a company’s product or service and the customer’s loyalty to the brand. Vocalcom software not only computes a company’s NPS in real time, but it will also answer the why behind the score. Vocalcom’s native text analytics automatically analyzes verbatim feedback, and easily uncovers and quantifies what a company does well and what it can fix or improve.
The system also allows users to deliver in-store offers to shoppers, welcome messages to stadium-goers, indoor notifications, mobile tours to museum visitors, and the like. Vocalcom SmartConnect for iBeacon can capture and relay contextual information allowing mobile customers to connect seamlessly to live agents, who receive session information, customer history, preferences, location, browsing activity, and other contextual information for authentication, faster service, and the delivery of effortless experiences.
Vocalcom Cloud Contact Center is a robust omnichannel solution with a focus on getting up and running quickly, and this is why it was chosen.
Just as enterprise and service providers have adopted software-defined networking in the data center, they are now discovering the value of SDN-based cloud networking architectures. These enterprises and service providers are seeking products that provide the interconnection of cloud exchanges with the availability, scalability, flexibility, and value that the traditional hardware-based routing and switching products cannot match. VellOS represents one of the first platforms that supports private, hybrid, and public cloud connectivity based on their underlying applications and associated services.
The solution is application-aware, providing network intelligence that allows customers to tailor their cloud exchange networking services to deliver on-demand service creation for cloud, data centers, and enterprise applications and services. It provides simplified network operation through a policy-driven architecture with logically centralized resource control to automate and orchestrate delivery of just-in-time connectivity while improving business application performance and optimizing work load management.
Sonus’ VellOS is a programmable network control platform based on open networking standards that enables real-time control of application performance through logically centralized network resource control. It provides fast and efficient IP provisioning services, on-demand application network bandwidth management, and dynamic network access, allowing customers to gain a competitive advantage.
- secure, resilient, open, scalable, programmable interfaces;
- responsiveness to the real-time needs of latency-sensitive and mission-critical applications; and
- a policy-based framework that enables service level agreements to be guaranteed based on learned optimal path computation and automated topology discovery.
Designed for reliability and scale, VellOS enables applications to automatically optimize the network infrastructure and increase performance to deliver higher business value. VellOS unifies the control of the optical, Ethernet, and virtual networking planes under common open software. Combining the application richness of real-time Linux with an advanced OpenFlow controller, VellOS simplifies network operation through a policy-driven architecture. Moreover, VellOS enables ease of use through inherent capabilities such as automatic discovery of network topology and minimal network touchpoints to create flows between end devices, and automatic path re-computation in case of failures.
Sonus’ VellOS Manager (vManager), meanwhile, is an intuitive GUI that allows applications to maximize network bandwidth usage and availability of cloud exchange networks. It reduces the need to over-provision expensive bandwidth, while meeting dynamic application network and availability requirements through simpler control. Regardless of how many hubs are in the network, VellOS can create logical connections with configurable bandwidth setting. VellOS also exposes a rich set of northbound RESTful APIs to integrate bandwidth control with IT workflows. Connections can be established by defining endpoints (switches, storage, or application servers) and amount of bandwidth needed – up to 10Gbps per flow in increments of 1Kbps. At any time, vManager can provide an instant view into who is using the network, what resources are actually being used, and what is remaining available to provision, making network capacity planning much more accurate and simpler.
VellOS provides a programmable, topology-aware, policy enforcement point for the entire network, and by combining this with Sonus’ SBC portfolio, delivers customers with complete end-to-end communication network security – something unique in the market
A major benefit – especially for heterogeneous environments – is that VellOS is also hardware-agnostic.
Other differentiators include:
- switch virtualization and multiple API integration capabilities;
- intelligent topology discovery to determine data plane connectivity and to automatically detect network topology changes to provision new or modified network configurations to meet SLAs;
- traffic optimization algorithms and network resource scheduling to dynamically analyze network usage and perform path computation to determine optimal data flows on a per application basis (Network configuration changes can be made in milliseconds, ensuring user applications are not affected by changes in network behavior.); and
- Security for the Cloud exchange network edge such that only traffic from known users or network devices is allowed;
- support for networks made up of proprietary (Juniper/Cisco, etc.) or COTS-based hardware switches.
VellOS Release 8.1 became available March 4. This release enables service providers and enterprises to enhance, secure, and monetize their cloud exchange network. This release extends network layer security in support of a multilayer security architecture, ensuring that organizations can dynamically implement security policies at the network layer. VellOS enables this by delivering programmable segmentation of application traffic and business policy management tied directly to traffic forwarding rules.
VellOS Release 8.1 also provides dynamic path management – seamlessly handling changing network conditions. This functionality offers peace of mind to network administrators by meeting mission-critical traffic SLAs and optimizing network resource utilization.
Yes, software is eating the world. It ate networks via SDN and now, thanks to Sonus, it’s eating multivendor cloud architectures, and that’s why Sonus was chosen to win this award.
Dialpad is the company that first popularized international VoIP calling – specifically into the U.S. – back when most web users used the phone to connect. The same people behind that company acquired the name once again and applied it to Switch, which is a user-centric engine that powers modern business communications. It’s an end-to-end cloud solution that spans voice, messaging, and video, while integrating with Google Apps for Work, Microsoft Office 365, and social applications LinkedIn and Twitter – for context around every call and message. In addition, the company touts the ability for the system to be up and running in a matter of minutes.
Dialpad is not a hosted service. As a real multi-tenant cloud service, there is no on-premises or per-customer hosting. Since Dialpad is a cloud-based business phone service that works across web-friendly devices, it eliminates the usage of traditional on-premises telephony hardware. The Dialpad websites, web applications, and smartphone backend are all hosted on the Google Cloud Platform. The telephony engines, which handle call set-up and media exchange (i.e. voice or voice packet), are located in numerous data centers across the globe that are managed by tier-1 providers.
Dialpad built a system where the network elements handling calls, both the border controllers and the media gateways, have no knowledge of any other server in the system, or of the company’s business logic. Instead, when an event happens, the network elements connect up to a Google AppEngine app, which gives them instructions. So when an incoming call reaches the border of the network, the border controller asks AppEngine what to do, and AppEngine tells it how to route the call to a media gateway. When that call reaches the media gateway, it connects up to AppEngine, which will tell it to play this hold music, place these outbound calls to the user's forwarding phones, then connect the call.
This has several important advantages. First, it allows Dialpad to rely on AppEngine, and all of Google's underlying infrastructure, to handle the complex problems of user data management and all the associated problems of scale.
Second, it allows a separation of concern: The infrastructure can only worry about building basic primitives like playing audio or routing a call, allowing Dialpad to optimize and perfect that, without concern about particulars of business logic.
Third, it allows business feature development to operate at web speed: Developing a new IVR flow happens in modern web languages, with the latest cloud-based tools and techniques, and are implemented by the same developer building the user-visible web interface.
Dialpad delivers a disruptive experience to age-old conferencing and virtual meetings, with no PINs and no downloads, and also provides free international calls. Additionally, Google Apps for Work integration includes directory, email, calendar, documents, and Hangouts.
In the past six months, multiple improvements have been made to the Dialpad product, including Office 365 integration, email-only sign-up, native Mac and Windows clients, group messaging with MMS support, and fax support.
Adding email-only sign-up also expanded the company’s customer base, specifically so users not on Google or Office 365 can still use Dialpad. Dedicated clients for Mac and Windows instead of just Chrome were added to increase usability. Also, the addition of group messaging and MMS support now allows for more flexibility to the user when communicating internally or externally from his or her company.
Dialpad was chosen to win this award because it feels more like a web solution than a telco one. In other words, it was designed from the ground up to take advantage of web architecture, services, and applications, allowing companies to more seamlessly integrate their productivity tools.
Tely’s mission is to deliver cloud-optimized endpoints for creative teams so that everyday visual collaboration is easy in the mid-sized to large enterprise huddle space. The Tely 200 works with cloud-based videoconferencing service providers and on-premises solutions to integrate the experience seamlessly and enable instant videoconferencing and content sharing. The main differentiators are ease of use and a very reasonable price: $1,500 for1080p, dual display and Tely Portal management is $300/year or $200/year with 3-year commitment. This could be a third to half the list prices of the most expensive competition.
Some of the benefits of this VCaaS solution are:
- multiparty collaboration;
- directory access to virtual meeting rooms;
- presentations, document and video sharing in real time;
- impromptu virtual meetings with internal and external users;
- one-click from calendar conference joins;
- multi-platform integration;
- access to additional third-party services such as H.323/SIP systems, telephone access, as well as advanced features for large meetings, recording/playback, and more;
- optimized workflow and integration with cloud-based video services such as Accessnord, Blue Jeans Network, Pexip, Videonor, Videxio, and Zoom-based calling services;
- integration with Google, Office 365 (Outlook / Exchange) Calendar;
- TA simple portal that IT manager can access from any device to deploy, monitor, and report on Tely 200 video endpoints; and
- interoperability with videoconferencing solutions via SIP or H.323 from Acano, Avaya, Cisco, Lifesize, Polycom, and Vidyo.
Product quality and ease of use:
- an integrated high-definition 1080p camera with 4x digital zoom and 85 degrees diagonal field of view;
- integrated dual microphones and support for an optional external USB mic;
- ability for users to simultaneously view video and share content on dual screen displays (single display is also supported);
- support for both wired and wireless (over IP) content sharing;
- IR remote with QWERTY keyboard and Tely Touch app on Google Play that can be downloaded on any Android tablet for touch-based interactions; and
- support for Microsoft Office 365 and Google Calendar that enables users to join a meeting right with one click from the room calendar.
We chose Tely because of its focus on providing reasonably priced, well-featured video solutions for huddle rooms with adequate quality levels.
Designed for small and medium businesses between five and 500 users, the newly released MiTeam is a team and social collaboration tool that is fully integrated into the MiCloud Office hosted voice solution. This unique application provides a highly collaborative, persistent workspace for team-based meetings, conversations, content collaboration, and project management eliminating the need for separate file storage, instant messaging, and task management applications. ?
MiTeam extends collaboration beyond a company’s walls to mobile employees, partners, and customers, helping to reduce emails by up to 40 percent, increase time to market, and keep confidential files secure from a single, converged collaboration screen. Living in the cloud or on premises, MiTeam is truly focused on holistic team collaboration seamlessly blended within real-time, carrier-grade hosted voice services that don't require users to switch applications or track multiple usernames and passwords. ?
MiTeam is mobile-first, cloud-enabled and millennial-focused, meaning it aligns much closer with the way teams actually work today. Project teams are no longer comprised of people working in the same location – they can be scattered across countries and time zones, and include people from multiple internal and external organizations using a variety of devices. As a result, teamwork environments are littered with communications across many disparate applications, including emails, chats, texts, phone calls, voicemails, videoconferences, and other collaboration applications, causing confusion and lengthening time to market.
By keeping pervasive chats, collaboration, and content (presentations, pdfs, recorded meetings, etc.) new team members can be caught up in a matter of minutes. Users can consolidate teamwork capabilities into a single windowpane, centralizing chats, content sharing, collaborative whiteboard sessions, pictures, videos, presentations, and add rich graphic and vocal annotations. They can use this solution to keep up to date on projects, stay connected with colleagues and clients, and eliminate cumbersome emails with powerful layers of embedded collaboration within a single application. MiTeam also can integrate and embed more than 40 external services – such as DropBox, Salesforce.com, Evernote (News - Alert), and Google Drive – directly into an experience to automate alerts, seamlessly import content and annotate files, all within the same application.
What we like about this solution is how well it provides numerous tools to an enterprise, allowing it to have the best of Slack, GoToMeeting, and other solutions but in a single application. Moreover, we love the focus on mobile-first as it applies to the millennial, mobile-first generation, and MiTeam could even be used as an enticement to attract the best talent to an organization.
Edited by Alicia Young